|1. Untitled 1|
|2. Untitled 2|
|3. Untitled 3|
|4. Untitled 4|
|5. Untitled 5|
|6. Untitled 6|
|7. Untitled 7|
|8. Untitled 8|
Putting all self-servicing art-for-sake-of-itself nonsense aside, this is perhaps one of the finest records I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. On their previous offerings I felt the "songs" were too ambient and were never really developed as complete ideas. It was hard to find a discernible motif anywhere and you had the impression they were making it up as they went along.
On ( ) they develop their brilliant ideas more fully, and often entire songs are based around a simple repeating piano motif, which they build from a whisper to a scream, and back to a whisper over the course of seven minutes. The production is always bordering on the outer threshold of experimentation; you are sure to hear things you've never heard before. However, they present these unique sounds in a completely accessible way, so although it's new it is also intimately familiar. That, in a statement, is the definition of musical genius.
The highlights on the record are tracks 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8. I guess it would've been easier to say what *isn't* a highlight, but that's just how this record is. To me, the far and away best song is track 4 (I'm not giving song names because each track is "Untitled"), which in seven and a half minutes embodies everything that is spectacular about this record and this band.
Some other interesting tidbits...
- There are no lyrics on this record. Some listeners have mistakenly reported that Jónsi, the lead singer, sings in Icelandic. He is actually singing in a language he calls "Hopelandic" which is nothing more than an academic name for random syllables. Many times songs are written this way, with the singer just letting whatever comes out come out, and then replacing the meaningless syllables with actual words. Jónsi has forgone this last step and instead considers his soaring Thom Yorke-ish falsetto to be more of an instrument than lead vocal.
- Allegedly, the songs on this record were inspired by ancient Viking poetry.
- Jónsi, who is also the lead guitarist, uses a cello bow on his guitar to achieve the ambient, floating overtones.
- There is a thirty-second gap of silence after track 4. This is to separate the album from its "sweet" half into its "heavy" half.
I haven't mentioned being annoyed with the overt self-importance of the record - not including song titles, not including an album title, separating the album into halves, etc. - and I won't go into too much musing about it. I will say this - Sigur Ros isn't exactly helping an anti-pop image by doing this. At first it will be appreciated only by the "alternative" folk, and then the college kids will discover it and it will become pop, thus considered "uncool" by those that originally lauded it although nothing about it has changed. This is the typical pattern of genius.
Sigur Ros should just accept the inevitable. They are far too talented and ingenious to not eventually be recognized as superstars.
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